I got my first guitar in about 1959 when I was 12...I have been fascinated by them ever since. I have a LOT of guitars now, and I find many of the "cheaper" guitars are my favorites...better playing and great sounding instruments for not a lot of money. I want to pass a little of my experience on this along because I know there are a lot of guitar players here and some of us are financially challenged, but want a good instrument.
My suggestions for good acoustic steel string guitars at low prices - Yamaha, especially the FG series, 6 and 12 string. They are solid wood, not laminate. Solid wood guitars sound more alive, and the wood does improve with age and use...the sound vibrations actually change the characteristics of the wood, and mellows the tone. Yamaha FG guitars can be found used or refurbished for very little money - I have 2, bought for my late wife and myself as christmas gifts almost 10 years ago, still with no problems at all They are made with spruce tops and sides and back of NATO, a type of rosewood, and they play very well and sound great - loud, and very good tone. I still have both of them, and they have had a truss rod adjustment and new strings every so often, but that's all. We got these refurbished for about $30 each. I have seen these sell at yard sales for $15 - $20, and there are lots of them on ebay for $40-$60. I have yet to play a BAD Yamaha acoustic guitar, but it's best to buy one you can play. Sometimes that is just not possible and ebay generally will support return for refunds if it should be needed.
My second recommendation would be any recent - Late 1990's on - Epiphone.
I just discovered how GREAT these guitars are...they are also solid wood...Here's my 2006 Epiphone Masterbilt, a jumbo flat top, spruce top with maple back and sides...a beautiful player...Epiphones have different bracing from their parent Gibson
s guitars, and a distinct tone...I have played a '60's Gibson Jumbo over the last 20 years, and I have to say I prefer the Epiphones - at 1/8th the original price - for playability and tone.
Epiphone has discontinued a lot of their acoustic models, and there are some fine used Epi's around at very good prices. I have not played their low end models, but they are available used for around $100 and I know many very happy Epiphone owners...I have 3 Epiphone acoustics now, and love them.